California has added PFOA to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Businesses have until February 25, 2023, to comply with ‘clear and reasonably’ warning requirements.

SAFEGUARDS | Consumer ProductsNO. 036/22

 SG 03622 Chemical

California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) is the ‘Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986’, a ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly by Californian residents in November 1986. It requires the state to publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. First published in 1987, the list has evolved to more than 900 chemicals.

Prop 65 places two important requirements on companies doing business in California. These are to:

  • Provide a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical – becomes effective 12 months after a chemical has been listed
  • Prohibit the knowing discharge of a listed chemical into sources of drinking water – becomes effective 20 months after a chemical has been listed

Businesses with less than 10 employees and government agencies are exempt from the aforementioned provisions. Businesses are also exempt from these provisions if exposure create no significant risk of cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

In November 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) listed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, CAS 335-67-1) as a chemical known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity under Prop 65 (SafeGuardS 175/17). 

PFOA, a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), has a wide variety of applications in the manufacture of consumer goods, including carpets, leather, textiles, food contact materials and articles such as non-stick cookware and paper coatings, with anti-water (water-proof/water-resistant), grease, oil and/or stain properties. It is also used in the production of fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers.

In February 2022, OEHHA added PFOA to the list of chemicals known to cause cancer. 

Highlights of the addition of PFOA to Prop 65 are summarized in Table 1.



Date of Listing

Effective Date

Clear and reasonable warning

Prohibition from discharging into sources of drinking water


November 10, 2017

November 10, 2018

July 10, 2019


February 25, 2022

February 25, 2023

October 25, 2023

Table 1

Throughout a global network of laboratories, SGS offers comprehensive testing, product assessment and consultancy services related to California Proposition 65 to help you manage risk in your supply chain for consumer goods such as DIYs, electrical and electronics, hardgoods products, juvenile products, and textile & toy products. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s tested. Contact us for more information or visit our website

For inquiries, please contact:

Dr. Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: (+852) 2774 7420

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